Could be the Best Time Ever to Open a Business
Businesses are suffering in a way we never imagined. Even the best run family operations wouldn’t have contingencies that addressed an 8-24 month virus related shutdown that forced customers away from your business. They’re taking on the additional expense in materials and labor to keep facilities and staffs and customers safe. Crushing blows weekly, if not daily, on recommendations without guidance or rules, some politicized, which make the stress nearly impossible. Not to mention the toll on loyal employees and their families and the communities supported by these businesses. Some folks’ life savings and family legacies are gone, leaving soon or on the line.
Owners that have survived to this point have pivoted so many times I bet their hips hurt. And here we are at the holidays where, in a normal year, they’d finally be making a profit for the year. It’s a safe bet to say that many many more small businesses will close right before our eyes.
Are there still strategies left that address survival? I suspect there are owners who wish they’d kept information about their best customers so they could direct campaigns to get them back. I’m certain owners are re-thinking what exceptional customer service means to their business since repeat business is where profit is made. Nothing now cost you less than before, so raising prices is natural and expected. Revitalizing your marketing to take advantage of no-cost and low-cost methods to reach your well-defined ideal clients is time well spent and keeps a measured flow of new prospects looking for you.
Never forget that cash is king. Don’t spend it, get more of it, apply for lines of credit and credit cards and lean on your family and friends. Be willing to take on investors and partners.
Notwithstanding all of that, history is clear that times like these are opportunities for many people. Good chance they are out of work and neither a stimulus nor unemployment funds cover the reoccurring bills. Many folks will open their businesses for the first time based on their functional experience. For them I suggest learning what you don’t know. Your financials, the cost of acquiring a new customer and key performance indicators for your industry. Be urgent with your time and get knee deep in books on how to sell.
Here are a couple of thoughts on why now is the best time to open a business. For certain business models these ideas don’t float, I get it. Please accept the generalizations.
--Opportunities are everywhere. Throw a life preserver to a business you believe can bounce back with an owner that needs your input and money. If you own the tools or the skills there are any number of activities that turn into businesses you can address from a garage and a home office at a very low cost of entry. Research business brokers; their websites are chock full of ones for sale.
--Things are shifting into high speed. The pace of pivot or change is gaining speed. This can be your chance to leapfrog ahead and scale the venture much quicker than before.
--Everything is virtual. There is no need for facilities and space. One of the biggest expenses and biggest headaches is owning and renting buildings. It’s the lowest cost time to be in business.
--Marketing is virtual and cheap. So many platforms to consider but develop an exclusivity and back it with a legitimate guarantee. Don’t discount, instead add value that doesn’t cost much. Then focus on defining your ideal client and find them in the highest concentrations. If you don’t have a marketing budget and clearly defined results needed from each marketing activity at the very start, you’re throwing away your best shot at succeeding. Measure everything in marketing and be consistent.
--The competition doesn’t know what they are doing.There are the owners still flailing around thinking they survive by continuing to do every thing daddy and granddaddy did which got them through the last 17 recessions. They don’t know that meeting higher expectations and creating wow experiences drive customer loyalty. They can’t see that way back at inception, granddaddy and grand mama tweaked what they did everyday to address the needs of the market. If you possess a better answer, they line up to let you serve them.
--Plenty of people to hire. Not only are there 22 million people to hire, they are prepared to work for less than what they previously earned so they can start. They have obligations. Some, who are working, are available for the same old reason that folks hate their bosses and would welcome a change. Plenty seeking promotional advancement and organizations with integrity. Some are excited and inspired by great leadership. You bump into folks along the way and you say to yourself, “I wish they were on my team.” Steal ‘em. You may be just the person they need to get where they want to go.
I recall the pit in my stomach when, in 2010 and the economy was questionable at best, I opened this business. It was my time to call the shots. Create focus and urgency and doors will open. Anyone who says failure is not an option misses the point. This will be an apprenticeship. Be ready to get up, dust yourself off and keep going. Be open to changing the way you get to the goal you plan. Don’t change the goal; change the plan.
Take action today to open a business and address survival and then Go run a Lap! Business is Fun.
Tony Marder is a Gastonia resident and President of ASM Ventures Corporation. His clients are family businesses who develop and implement new strategies to make more profit. Reach him at www.enjoyingyourbusiness.com